It was perfect Queensland winter-weather for a top track and field meet. The island athletes did not feel the need to rug up until late afternoon when the sun went down. The Australian and New Zealand athletes relished the warmer weather.
The competition started in the early afternoon with a series of Regional Championship field events. The outstanding competitors in these events were -
* Margaret Satupai (SAM) 13.92m and Kaati Malua (TGA) 11.47m in the Women's Shot Put. Both are from Polynesia.
* Shaka Sola (SAM) 16.19m and Henry Satupai (SAM) 12.98m (both from Polynesia) and Raobu Tarawa (KIR) 12.88m from Micronesia, in the Men's Shot Put.
* Terani Faremiro and Johanna Sui (PYF) both jumped 1.64m in the W HJ.
* Norman Tse (PNG) representing Melanesia, and Regan Standing (NZL) representing Polynesia both jumped 1.96m in the Men's High Jump with Raihau Maiau (PYF) and Xavier Fenuafanote (NCL) both clearing 1.87m.
While these field events were underway the first track events of the day were being held. PNG / Melanesia as expected won both of these hurdle events in fine style.
Sharon Kwarula, recently returned from a training and competition period in California won the Women's 400m Hurdles in 64.38 seconds. Wala Gime, who has also just returned from the USA won the Men's 400m Hurldles in 53.12 seconds. Winning the Polynesian Championships was New Zealand's Michael Cochrane who ran 56.16 seconds.
The 100m preliminaries for women needed four heats with the athletes trying to qualify for their Regional Championship final. The heats were dominated by the Melanesian runners - Toea Wisil (PNG) 11.85 seconds and Makelesi Batimala (FIJ) 11.97 seconds. Latai Sikuvea (TGA), now mainly a golfer, but still a fine sprinter, was the dominant Polynesian runner with her time of 12.67 seconds. Add to the mix PNG's Helen Philemon, who recorded a time of 12.87 seconds, and the scene was set for a good Melanesian Final. The top Micronesian athlete was Lovelite Detenamo - 13.13 seconds.
The Men's 100m Heats went according to the form guide. In-form Niko Verekauta (FIJ) ran 10.74 seconds to turn-back PNG's Nelson Stone who cruised to a time of 11.00 into a wind of 2.4mps. For Polynesia the stand-out was New Zealand's Clayton Mbofana who won the first heat in 10.86 seconds. Also impressing was Niue's Lagaua Patuavalu who ran 11.15 seconds. Micronesia's standout was Tyrone Omar with a time of 11.65 seconds. With a total of 48 runners, seven heats were needed to select the athletes for the three Regional Finals.
During the mid-afternoon there were a series of Non-Championships events, but events to give the athletes the opportunity to strive for Grand Prix points and the "dash for cash".
The leading lights in these events were -
* Patsy / Serafina Akeli (SAM), 50.03m in the Women's Javelin Throw.
* James Copeland (FIJ) who threw the 800g Javelin 66.36m to win narrowly from Australia's Ashley Hollins who recorded a distance of 64.23m. We will see them again go head-to-head in the Championship event.
* PNG's Mong Tavol (13.98m) and Reginald Monagi (13.64m) dominated the Men's Triple Jump. Like the others they will have another chance in a few days' time to better their performances.
* Samoa's Henry Satupai won the men's Discus (39.39m) from Australia's David Rakoci (34.61m).
* Margaret Satupai (SAM) dominated the Women's Discus Throw with a distance of 44.13m, to defeat Kelly Humphries of Australia (36.17m).
The six 100m Finals gave the crowd plenty of action.
* The Women's Melanesian Championship was won, as expected, by PNG's Toea Wisil (11.80) from Fiji's Makelesi Batimala (11.98). Make was closing at the end indicating a very good match-race is in store for the 200m. Helen Philemon (PNG) got the bronze with a time of 13.07 seconds.
* The Polynesian Champion was Latai Sikuvea (TGA) who ran a time of 12.74 seconds. Silver went to Patiola Pahulu (TGA) in 13.24 and the bronze to the Cook Islands' Patricia Taea in 13.31 seconds.
* The Micronesian event was almost impossible to call with the three medal winners all recording a time 13.39 seconds, with the order being Naome Burk (GUM) gold, Lovelite Detenamo (NRU) silver and Yvonne Bennet (NMI) the bronze.
* The Melanesian Men's Final was won by Niko Verekauta (FIJ) in 10.60 seconds, the fastest time recorded by an Islander this year. The silver went to PNG's Nelson Stone in 10.76 and the bronze to Fiji's SPG silver medal winner, Iowane Dovumatua in 10.82 seconds. Fourth was 16-year-old Banuve Tabakaucoro in 10.95 seconds and PNG's Kupun Wisil was next with 11.00 seconds. It was a high quality race.
* The Polynesian Men's 100m Champion was NZL's Clayton Mbofana in the time of 10.82 seconds. Silver went to Lagaua Patuavalu in 11.04 seconds and the bronze to Tonga's `Aisea Tohi in 11.28 seconds.
* The Micronesian Champion was the Northern Marianas' Tyrone Omar (11.65 seconds) from the Kiribati athlete Tanroo Taniera (11.74) and Nauru's JJ Capelle (11.77).
The Melanesian Men's 5000m race saw Vanuatu's Philip Nausien winning in the time of 16:08.60 from Australia's Nathan Sutherland (16:34.26) and New Caledonia's Theo Houdret (17:30.16).
The Polynesian 5000m Champ was Francky Maraetaata (PYF) with a time of 16:24.66 and the Micronesian Men's 5000m Champ was Toby Castro (GUM) in 17:11.03.
The final events of the day were the 4 x 400m Relays. The winners of these events for Women were -
* PNG (4:00.20) from Fiji (4:02.28) for the Melanesian title.
* Northern Marianas (4:29.31) from Guam (4:39.09) for Micronesian supremacy.
* Tonga (4:29.27) for the Polynesian Championship.
The Men's events finished as follows -
* PNG (3:23.07) from Vanuatu (3:30.73) and Australia (3:34.31) to claim the Melanesian gold.
* In an exciting race, the Kiribati Team (3:38.62) held off the tenacious Guam Team (3:39.73). Next was the Northern Marianas (3:52.68) to claim the third Micronesian medal in this event.
* The Polynesian contest was even closer with New Zealand (3:29.62) just holding out the Tongans (3:29.88).
The events will continue on Thursday with more Grand Prix opportunities and medals on offer for the Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian Regional Championships.
Picture: Toea Wisil (PNG) taking gold in the 100 metres